Graphically Speaking: Captain America: The First Avenger review

Captain America: The First Avenger

Directed by Joe Johnston
Starring Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action

[Editor’s Note: Let’s give a warm welcome to Lowell Greenblatt, who will be covering most things comics and horror movies-related! – TL]

The worst thing about Captain America: The First Avenger is the title. Besides the upcoming Avengers movie, which barely ties into the film at all, there’s no reason for that subtitle. But ignore it, because the rest is gravy.

Now this is an origin story. It introduces our hero, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) as a 90-pound asthmatic weakling in WWII-era New York. “But Human Torch was a cocky beefcake! How could such a thing happen?” Well, the answer isn’t “CGI.” It’s “Pretty damn good CGI.” CGI good enough to allow him to act like said weakling, so we’re actually kind of astonished when the military turns him into a super soldier who looks like the Chris Evans we know. But by then all memories of the Human Torch are wiped clean.

Let me back up. Do we all know the story of Steve Rogers, ordinary joe who wanted to be a soldier in WWII so bad he lied multiple times on his form? Who was then given an experimental serum by kindly German expat Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci) that transformed him into a Super Solider, only to have a Nazi spy kill Erskine and with him, the formula so he’s the only one? Ring a bell? No worries. It’s all here and easy to digest. It’s even patriotic without being corny (I’m talking to YOU, Michael Bay. You have a fetish for the US government and their toys. And it’s weird).

The film takes a slight detour into some cheesy musical numbers (don’t ask), but quickly gets to Rogers kicking Nazi butt and rescuing American soldiers in Italy. Now here’s the kicker: In a lesser “origin” film, we would’ve stopped here to leave a killer cliffhanger for a sequel. Riiiight before Cap gets his signature outfit and teams up with Bucky (no longer a teenager. More like Iron Fist to his Luke Cage, sans powers). But no. we’re treated to an awesome montage of Cap and the Howling Commandos in full force, beating up Hydra members over a span of years. YEARS! Not only do we get some solid fan service, but think of how many stories there are to tell in future Cap films. I’m just sayin’: Marvel has got its poop together.

Cap’s nemesis is the Red Skull, played by Hugo Weaving, who, let’s be honest, can do this role in his sleep and still look like a rock star. He’s the head of Hydra, a Nazi subdivision who are less about the genocide and more about using Viking relics to power stealth bombers. Good for them!

Okay, so it’s not Batman Begins. But it’s not supposed to be. It’s a lively action adventure in the spirit of Raiders of the Lost Ark, which director Joe Johnston cited as an influence. Johnston may be responsible for the what-were-they-thinking Jurassic Park 3, but he also brought us another period superhero flick, the underrated The Rocketeer. Here he gives us a solid action-adventure worth your time.

Oh and one last thought: Steve Rogers doesn’t “become” Captain America. He’s always been a good, upstanding guy. The only change he ever goes through is physical. He doesn’t learn anything the way Thor learns the nature of sacrifice. Or how Bruce Wayne learns to be a symbol. Or how Tony Stark learns to stop being a dick (at least until the sequel). It’s pretty bold for a superhero movie. Just sayin.’

Captain America is currently out in theaters, and on ice cream and donuts.

Posted on July 30, 2011 at 18:00 by Lowell Greenblatt · Permalink
In: Reviews · Tagged with: , , , ,